are three main points to consider when deciding to undertake a restoration project in a remnant patch of bushland:
- Retain – for bushland that is in a healthy condition and needs no more management then to be left in its present state
- Regenerate - where there is a potential for natural regeneration to occur, mainly in a remnant that has a high percentage of good healthy bush and a higher percentage of local native plants occurring on the site
- Revegetate – applies to bushland areas that are very degraded and have little regeneration potential; where there is a very small percentage of local native plants on the site and the site has been degraded for a long period of time
All bushland needs to managed to keep it healthy - planning for passive recreation, managing fire and stormwater and regenerating degraded parts are part of managing the resource. Bush regeneration usually only applies to degraded bushland, with the aim of using the tools and resources available to replicate a natural system that will maintain itself in a stable condition. As well as removing and controlling weeds, bush regeneration should aim to create an environment which favours natural regeneration of plants native to local area or region, this may mean stimulating plant propagules (seeds) already present on the site.
Sometimes, in very badly degraded sites, seeds and plant materials need to be brought in to the site, preferably from seed collected and grown from local stocks.
What a bush regeneration project needs to know before it starts
- Work out what type of vegetation your site has, get a clear picture of what the bush should look like. This may mean calling in someone with a good knowledge of the local flora like a botanist or visiting a local site nearby that is not degraded. Also asking locals that have lived in the area about what the site used to be like is often helpful.
- Find what types of weeds and what level of densities occur on your site, this can be done by using a simple hand drawn sketch map and three different coloured pencils. Again call on your local Landcare or Bushcare expert.
- It is important to recognise that when the weeds are cleared many more will or may take their place at first. This will mean that follow up visits to the same site are crucial. The time required to control and remove the weed regrowth may be longer then the time required to do the initial weed clearing, as a group needs to keep this in mind and not to clear too quickly.
- Know your weeds!...get to know the weeds that occur on your site and the their basic botany so you can work out the best methods of removing those weeds to minimise re-growth
- A basic knowledge of how plants, animals and the environment interact is extremely helpful, try talking to some local naturalists.
- Above all, be flexible; observe what happens to your site as your work progresses, as all sites will react differently, and not always in the way you may expect.
- Discuss your project with an experienced regenerator or Bushcare officer or group, as this is a field where experience really counts.
Information taken from the NSW National Trust – Bush Regenerators Handbook, 2nd Ed 1999.
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Remnant vegetation of the Shoalhaven
Native vegetation covers over 80% of the Shoalhaven area. Compared with most of Australia, this percentage is high, but reflects the large areas of National Parks, State forests and the generally poor and fragile soils covering most of the Shoalhaven.
Due to the great diversity of geology, soils, topography and climate, the Shoalhaven contains a variety of plant species and communities. Plant communities vary in structure from subtropical rainforest to heathland and include a range of eucalypt-dominated forests and woodlands and extensive wetland communities.
Whilst no vegetation communities have been lost to the Shoalhaven, all have been depleted to some extent since the arrival of Europeans.
There are extensive areas of National Park in the western section of the region; however, these areas are based primarily on sandstone formations which support particular types of ecosystems with distinct floristics and fauna habitat.
Consequently, many communities based on the richer soils such as spotted gum, blackbutt and red mahogony are poorly represented in the reserve system. Some of these communities are depleted to such an extent that the Federal and State targets of 15% reservation of pre-European vegetation are unable to be achieved.
Native vegetation plays an important role in the diverse natural and social systems that abound in Australia. Native vegetation provides food, shelter and breeding habitat for native animals. A range of degrading influences also affects the long-term conservation of remnant bushland, including:
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- complete and partial clearing for development
- fragmented and small remnant areas
- altered water flow regimes in riparian areas
- altered fire regimes
- recreational use
- feral animal impacts
- weed invasion that is encouraged by all these processes
What we need to do now
As a community, in order to help protect our remnant bushland there are a few key bushland management principles that we need to adopt and put into practice in our efforts to sustainably manage our remnant vegetation.
We need to :
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- recognise that Shoalhaven's remnant vegetation is a valuable resource that requires a commitment from our community to protect its value.
- retain remnant vegetation in areas of size and shape that will enable the existing flora and fauna communities to survive in the long term.
- protect and enhance the habitats of native flora and fauna, especially threatened species.
- protect and enhance habitat corridors and links with other remnant vegetation.
- protect and enhance remnant vegetation along natural drainage lines, watercourses and foreshores in order to protect, maintain and enhance water quality.
- protect and enhance remnant vegetation of scenic value and retain the unique visual character of the landscape of the Shoalhaven.
- encourage and promote community involvement and cooperation in the management of the Shoalhaven's remnant vegetation